As one voice, the ten presidents of the Court of Appeal are sounding alarm bells. The ten Court of Appeal and Employment tribunal presidents have started their return from the judicial summer recess, singing from the same hymn sheet.
They are sounding alarm bells about the state of the Belgian justice system, resulting from the serious lack of means which threatens the very essence of our justice system – the rule of law.
The presidents of the respective courts in Liège and Ghent launched the first volley at 10 a.m. today (Thursday).
Under-financed for a long time, the Justice system has faced new austerity measures, which have been “linear and indiscriminate savings” which “slow down the daily operation of the wheels of Justice.”
The judges observe that, “A state deprived of Justice or drained of resources ceases to operate with a rule of law.”
They warn, “Budget and savings logic pursued by the federal government leads to serious consequences for Belgian society.”
They go further, “These consequences occur when the Justice system, which has everyone’s misery thrown in its face, is prevented from properly carrying out its mission.”
The equilibrium between the separation of the three constitutional powers (parliament, the executive and the judiciary) also comes under threat. As one voice, the Court of Appeal presidents have stated that they are in favour of administrative autonomy as decided at the beginning of 2014.
They are, however, requesting that the budget means made available are sufficient for each judicial entity to properly fulfil its role.
They are also requesting that they are involved in investment decisions relating to I.T and electronic communication.
The judges state, “The college of courts and tribunals is fired up to take its autonomous management responsibilities” and “to be custodian of a system which, is able to measure its efficiency but also its quality.”
The judges conclude,“The collegiate jurisdiction will refuse to take responsibility for a situation which has now become impossible to manage.”